The Bride Test by Helen Hoang is a contemporary romance novel set in the same universe as The Kiss Quotient, Hoang’s debut novel.
Khai Diep’s mom wants him to be married, stat! She’s desperate enough to travel back to Viet Nam to look for a suitable bride. When she meets Esme Tran, a mixed-race young woman, who cleans hotels to make ends meet for her family and young daughter, she thinks she might have found her son’s match, offering to fly Esme to the States, where she’ll two months to live with her son and, hopefully, convince him to marry her.
While Khai resists any possibility of getting married, due to his belief that he is incapable of loving, Esme is determined to change his mind. Who knows, the two might fall in love with each other, after all…
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
This book had absolutely everything I could hope for in a fun, summer romance. It was funny, it was super cute, the two main characters were likable (lovable, really!), and the story and conflict made sense.
I loved getting to know Khai and Esme. They were two such different people, but watching them fall in love was so sweet and so much fun. I love how Hoang manages to write such interesting, diverse characters, and keep true to their cultural and personal aspects. Esme’s determination and devotion to her family and to doing the right thing was sweet and endearing.
Honestly, I ate this book right up, page after page, and was so sad when it was over. I am really in love with these characters and with Hoang’s storytelling. More, I say, more!
Literary Value: 4/5
I love Hoang’s writing. She has a really adept way of switching back and forth between characters without it being jarring or uncomfortable. I also thing her narrative voice fits each character well, so that they are distinct and sound like real people. Her dedication to including neurodiverse characters in her stories is commendable and I think she does a good job of writing these characters realistically and naturally, without them coming across as pitiable or freakish/exotic. Khai’s is his own person, who just so happens to have autism, and he is written as a whole person and the story celebrates his successes as it would any other character.
This novel is written in a light, breezy style that I’ve really come to expect and love from Hoang. This would be the perfect beachy/summer read, but it’s also just a light, humorous romance that I would read any time I feel like I want to lose myself in another world for awhile.
Entertainment Factor: 5/5
I had so much fun reading this book. I devoured it, really, and I loved every inch of it. I found the characters to be interesting and funny and super cute. I loved watching them interact.
The story itself was interesting and definitely captured my attention. I enjoyed the ride, and even though I was certain of the outcome, Hoang kept it fun and full of interesting developments that made the journey exciting.
Cover Rating: 4/5
I love the color and the stylistic cartoon rendering, but I find it interesting that the cover focuses exclusively on, I’m assuming, Esme, rather than her and Khai, since they both are equally important characters. I like the little details of the plane (since Esme’s comes to the US via plan and her stay is uncertain), and that she’s clearly studying, which is a nice nod to her character’s journey of trying to better herself through education. Overall, it’s a fun, attractive cover that’s eye-catching and cute.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5 Wedding Rings
I loved this book almost if not equally to The Kiss Quotient. It was such a blast to read and the characters and story were so interesting. I loved learning more about Khai and watching him grow to understand himself better though the love and support of Esme. I also adored Esme – she was so determined and empowering. I love that she wanted to do things for herself and earn her way, which I think is a truly admirable quality and kept her from sinking into dependence. She never gave up hope and that’s really cool.
If you loved The Kiss Quotient, I think you’ll love this book. The story is strong, and there’s lots of humor and love to make you laugh and swoon, sometimes at the same time. It’s diverse and it’s super cute. If you’re looking for a light, summer romance, this one’s got your name on it!
Thoughts & Thanks:
Thank you so much for reading my review! I’d love to hear your thoughts about this book!
Have you read The Kiss Quotient? Do you think you’ll read The Bride Test? Let’s chat in the comments!